25 April 2016

magic mochi custard cake and how to create your own recipes

My latest baking craze has been mochi custard cake, and I've made it for pretty much every event I've attended for the past two months. Which means I've baked it pretty much weekly, have dialed it in, and it's pretty much idiot-proof now.

It's also magic, because you dump in what feels like a bowl of slightly lumpy milk, and it separates into a layer of mochi on the bottom and a layer of custard on top. Plus, both the bottom and the top add a bit of crunch in contrast to the chewiness of the mochi and the creaminess of the custard. All together, your mouth gets to have a creamy/cruncy/chewy party of textures, and it is delicious.

One thing people always asked me was how I create my recipes, and this one is a great example because I didn't have to change the original recipe too much to make it just the way I like it. 

When I opened my little coffee shop, I tried tons of recipes for different pastries. (I was originally going to open a cupcake bakery, and I'd tried hundreds of recipes for cupcakes, but I needed to serve more than just cupcakes for this cafĂ©, so I had to quickly find delicious treats that I loved and felt proud to serve.)

So, I'd say there are three steps to creating your own recipes.

Try a TON of recipes until you really get a feel for whatever you're baking, whether your current mission is to create the perfect chocolate chip cookie, veggie quiche, coffee cake, or whatever inspires you. This way, you can...

1. Learn the ratios: how much fat/sugar/liquid/leavening agent(s)/salt/etc. are used and what fits your preferences. You'll see what happens when you use milk vs. yogurt vs. buttermilk, for example, when you bake. Which recipes were dry, and which were moist? It can become a science. But way more fun, because your experiments will be delicious.

More importantly, you'll be able to use the proper baking ratios to create your own versions of the scone/cookie/muffin/etc. as a base and tailor everything else. Want more chocolate chips and/or fewer raisins? Tweak away! I usually half the amount of sugar in all sweet recipes, for example, and that's usually perfect for my taste.

2. Experiment! Try taking what works in one recipe and what you like about another and combine them. Or use the ratios for a basic cake and add strawberries or Nutella or lemon zest. Or use a pancake recipe and bake donuts with that batter to see what happens (I highly recommend this). 

Add an egg and see if turns out creamier, or use buttermilk in place of milk and see if it's fluffier. Or take out the eggs and use bananas to see if the vegan version can work. And so on. There is no limit to your creativity! Do what sounds delicious and see what happens.

3. Practice practice practice. Which is sort of like #1, except now, you're testing your own recipes to make sure that the doctored up versions or the ones you've made up will work consistently and be re-creatable/repeatable by others. 

Note: this is a really fun way to make a lot of friends and/or make your current loved ones happy. It's also a great excuse to have lots of parties and shindigs. People are also much more forgiving when you feed them experimental treats when they aren't paying for them.

So, have fun baking, and enjoy!

magic mochi custard cake

adapted from Wasabi Prime

prep time: 10 minutes
bake time: 1 hour 20 minutes
total: 1 hour 30 minutes

Note: If you're in a rush, you can melt the butter and mix everything in one bowl by hand. That'll take your prep down to however long it takes you to mix all your ingredients into the baking dish. :-)


2 c sweet rice flour *
2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 stick (1/2 c) butter
3/4 c sugar
4 cups milk
4 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 

2. Grease 9x13 glass baking dish.
3. Whisk sweet rice flour, salt, and baking powder together and set aside. 
4. Cream butter and sugar. 
5. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. 
6. Add flour, milk, and vanilla, alternating wet and dry, and mix until well blended. 
7. Pour into pan and bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes (checking after an hour), or until center is firm. **
8. Serve warm and enjoy! 


* The sweet rice flour is the key ingredient that makes it mochi, and plain rice flour won't work. If you're looking for recommendations, I like Bob's Red Mill.

** If your oven has hot spots/is hotter in the back than the front/etc., then you'll want to rotate it halfway to ensure even baking.

- If you have to refrigerate this dessert, it actually reheats pretty well, too. (If by some miracle you don't finish it all.) :-)

- It's a very liquidy batter; that's normal. It's also a very forgiving recipe. The milk is best if it's whole, but I've used 2%, and it is still delicious. I've had a bit of extra flour that I just threw in, and that's been fine, too. 

- If you soften the butter to room temperature, you can mix it all in a bowl by hand. If you take the butter straight out of the fridge, then creaming it with a mixer yields great results. Like I said, it's a really forgiving recipe. Have fun, and enjoy!